On 10 April 1901, an unusual experiment was conducted in Dorchester, Massachusetts. Dr. Duncan MacDougall was going to prove that the human soul had mass, and was therefore, measurable. He conducted this experiment on six dying patients (selected based upon their imminent death) who were placed on specially made Fairbanks weight scales just prior to their deaths.
In the company of four other doctors, Dr. MacDougall carefully measured the weight of his first patient prior to his death. Once the patient died, an interesting event occurred : “Suddenly, coincident with death,” wrote Macdougall, “the beam end dropped with an audible stroke hitting against the lower limiting bar and remaining there with no rebound. The loss was ascertained to be three-fourths of an ounce.”
The experiment continued on the next patients with the same results. Everything was taken into account and all five doctors took their own measurements and compared their results. Not all the patients lost the same weight, but they did lose something that could not be accounted for.
Following the experiment and consulting with the other attending physicians, it was determined that the average weight loss of each person was ¾ of an ounce. Dr. MacDougall concluded that a human soul weighed 21 grams.
H. LaV. Twining, a physics teacher at Los Angeles Polytechnic High School, attempted the same experiment on mice in 1917. His conclusion was in line with that of Dr. MacDougall.
Later researchers showed that MacDougall’s experimental results were flawed, due to the limitations of the available equipment at the time, a lack of sufficient control over the experimental conditions, and the small sample size. The physicist Robert L. Park raised objections to MacDougall’s findings in his book Superstition: Belief in the Age of Science, while the psychologist Bruce Hood wrote that "Because the weight loss was not reliable or replicable, his findings were unscientific." Dr. Augustus P. Clarke in a rebuttal published in American Medicine pointed that MacDougall failed to consider another obvious hypothesis: that the weight loss (assuming it was real) was due to evaporation caused by the sudden rise in body temperature that occurs when the blood circulation stops and the blood can no longer be air-cooled by the lungs.
Nonetheless, this theory is still popular and a movie titled “21 Grams” made in 2003 references Dr. MacDougall’s experiments. [read more]
Mr. Hyunh’s story
“Many years ago i lived in another country, far away. I was a young man with a family, a beautiful baby girl. I call her Mai. I was the luckiest man in the world. At night I used to dream about our future together, to watch Mai grow up and go to school. To see her be happy. But there was trouble in my country. There was a war in the north, and every day the fighting was coming closer and closer. I knew that this would not be a good place for my child to grow up. I could not keep her safe, maybe not even have enough food for her to eat. So I decided we must try to get out. We must try to find a better life. Everyone was trying to get out. Everywhere there was confusion. Somehow, I got through. The only way out of the city was by helicopter. There were too many people. I begged the soliders, Please! Please take us! Help us find a new life! But he could not. He said there was only room for one of us. Then, I had to make the most difficult decision of my life. I knew I had to do the best thing for Mai. I knew that if I gave Mai to the soldiers, they would take care of her. They would find a home for her. And then as soon as I could, I would get out of the country and find her again. As the helicopter left, the soldier called out the name of a city. This city. He said he would bring her here. It took me twenty years until I could finally get out of the country. That’s why I came to this city. I believe she is here somewhere but I have not been able to find her. Sometimes it is so difficult that I almost give up hope. But I never stop thinking about her. I will never stop trying. I would do anything to see her again. To know that she is happy.”
And then you cry.
i watched this episode every christmas with my family. it was our tradition. still is.